Georgetown adjusts appropriation, spending policy during COVID-19 emergency
Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
The Georgetown Town Council voted to waive certain procedures and formalities for appropriation and expenditure of funds during an emergency, at its regular meeting March 16.
Working from a significantly shortened agenda, the council approved a resolution allowing valid claims to be paid outside a public meeting at the discretion of its president. Under this measure, if future meetings are canceled or operating changes occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s financial business will not be disrupted.
Council president Chris Loop pointed to the public health disaster emergency declared by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on March 6 (related to COVID-19) as reason for the move. The resolution can be amended as additional details emerge and lasts the duration of the emergency.
“One of the main reasons we’re meeting tonight is to pay claims,” Loop said, adding with the resolution in place, if other restrictions are imposed, “We will be prepared to still operate as a town.”
The town hall has not closed during regular business hours; however, residents are encouraged, instead, to conduct business by telephone or email if possible. Use of the town hall drop box for payments is also encouraged. The council discussed updating the town website to express those recommendations, and townspeople also may dial 211 for information and assistance.
Residents requiring help with meals or other issues have the option to contact the Georgetown Township Trustee, Loop said. The trustee’s telephone number will also be added to the town website.
In another matter, town engineer Bob Woosley suggested the council consider honoring the last payment request from the builder of the town’s new wastewater treatment plant. The request also included clearance to complete the payment outside a public meeting, if appropriate. Woosley said only two outstanding items remained to be addressed by the contractor and one was completed (it is under monitoring for reappearance of the issue) and the other is set for resolution. The council voted to release the final retainer amount for the project ($81,608.23) pending Woosley’s verification of completion. As council president, Loop would authorize payment on the town’s behalf.
Woosley also spoke regarding the town’s comprehensive plan which went before the Floyd County Plan Commission on March 3. The plan received a favorable recommendation from the county and returned to the council for action. Woosley said the plan required some minor corrections to maps, which were addressed and the revisions did not impact zoning. The council voted to approve the amended plan.
Town attorney Kristi Fox spoke regarding the town’s facade improvement program, approved at its February council meeting. Under the plan, home and business owners are eligible for reimbursement of 50% of funding up to $5,000 for updates to improve facades. Fox said the application and guidelines returned to the town’s redevelopment commission for review. As a result, the decision was made to add language to the application and program guidelines to stress priority will be given to the historic downtown area. The council voted to approve the amended language.
Fox also addressed another matter from the February meeting, a resolution allowing the police department to sell surplus personal property. The council passed an update to the resolution, permitting the police department to sell outdated radio equipment for $200.
In other business, the council:
• Announced a softball tournament at the town park scheduled for the upcoming weekend would be canceled. Loop mentioned the upcoming softball season may be delayed; however, that will be determined later.
• Heard Woosley report Koetter Construction delayed beginning of work on the sidewalk improvement project until March 23 due to rain.
• Acknowledged Woosley would leave copies of the architect’s space-needs assessment for the town hall and police department at the town hall for inspection.